Lea Lunden learned in January that San Francisco State University graduates’ names are not read as part of the school’s official ceremony. For such audible recognition, the psychology major could attend her department’s dinner cruise — but Lunden and any guests of hers would have to fork over $85 apiece.
Neither she nor many of her Psychology Department classmates can afford the Hornblower cruise event, so Lunden has been searching for a venue big enough to hold students and their friends and families. She also wants to keep the price at $20 per person.
“I think the Hornblower is a fun idea personally as a celebration, but not as a formal recognition ceremony” said Lunden, who is president of the campus psychology honor society Psi Chi. “I’m just in favor of having an additional ceremony that is more accessible to student’s price-wise and for grandparents and parents.”
But she’s cutting it close. With graduation only weeks away, Lunden has her work cut out for her. She has already initiated conversations with the Recreation and Park Department to use the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in McLaren Park, and Lunden also has inquired with City College about its stadium and the Cow Palace for a ceremony that could hold up to 1,800 people.
In addition to the university’s school-wide graduation ceremony, departments also hold their own events to recognize individual students. Many department ceremonies cost up to $25 per person. But psychology is one of SFSU’s largest majors, with as many as 300 people expected to receive degrees this year, and the Hornblower cruise is $85 a head.
SFSU President Leslie Wong said he would look into how graduation is run next school year, to possibly allow each department to plan their own celebration and forgo the school-wide ceremony, which students called “impersonal.”
If that happens, Psychology Department Chair Julia Lewis said her department will put in a request to use a large campus venue. For now, though, the psychology department is moving forward with the Hornblower cruise because there is not enough time to plan another celebration.
“There is no disagreement that the cost of our venue is high,” Lewis said. “Our primary goal is for this event to properly honor graduates and provide a venue for families to recognize and celebrate them.”
The cruise was booked in 2007, and back then the cost was a more reasonable $55 per person. The cost increased over the years, a department survey showed students still wished to hold the ceremony.
Lunden said she is holding out hope her alternative ceremony will happen.
“If I don’t get it, I’ll feel really bad for all those students trying to have an alternative ceremony,” she said. “I’m not going to quit until I have to.”